Publication Abstract

Strain Stiffening and Negative Normal Stress in Alginate Hydrogels

Hashemnejad, S. M., & Kundu, S. (2016). Strain Stiffening and Negative Normal Stress in Alginate Hydrogels. Journal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics. Wiley. 54, 1767-1775. DOI:10.1002/polb.24081.


Alginate hydrogels are polysaccharide biopolymer networks widely useful in biomedical and food applications. Here, we report nonlinear mechanical responses of ionically crosslinked alginate hydrogels captured using large amplitude oscillatory shear experiments. Gelation was performed in situ in a rheometer and the rheological investigations on these samples captured the strain-stiffening behavior for these gels as a function of oscillatory strain. In addition, negative normal stress was observed, which has not been reported earlier for any polysaccharide networks. The magnitude of negative normal stress increases with the applied strain amplitude and can exceed that of the shear stress at large-strain. Fitting a constitutive relationship to the stress-strain curves reveals that the mode of deformation involves stretching of the alginate chains and bending of both the chains and the junction zones. The contribution of bending increases near saturation of G blocks as Ca21 concentration was increased. The results presented here provide an improved understanding of the deformation behavior of alginate hydrogels and such understanding can be extended to other crosslinked polysaccharide networks.